Trans activist and entertainment professional Angelique Munro was the featured guest at a "fireside chat" held Jan. 23 at Center on Halsted. Leatherman Douglas O'Keeffe co-produced and hosted the event.
The chats are, according to the Center on Halsted website, "a series designed to capture for posterity the historical record of community luminaries from the LGBT and allied communities." Each chat is recorded and stored at the Leather Archives and Museum.
Featured in Chicago House's recently released TransLife Center video, Munrowho also works at Chicago Houseis also a cast member of the upcoming miniseries "Shelter City" and the host of an upcoming talk show, Week by Week with Eric & Angelique, for the Gay TV On The Go website. Her other endeavors include lecturing at colleges and universities about transgender issues and HIV/AIDS awareness, and hosting a drag show called "DIVA" at the nightspot @mosphere. Munro has also appeared on a number of television shows and on the radio.
O'Keeffe is a longtime community volunteer, writer and educator, and was named the 2004 Cellblock Shel-don Chicago Leatherman and was a top International Mr. Leather finalist in 2004.
Following O'Keeffe's introduction, Munro answered a series of questions about her life, work, community involvement and transgender issues. Munro said she lived in the Lincoln Park neighborhood until she was 9 years old, and then re-located to the Humboldt Park neighborhood for the remainder of her childhood/teen years. Humboldt Park, Munro said, was a difficult place to grow up since the people in her neighborhood did not see and accept her as the person she felt she was.
"When I was born, my brain told me I was a girl," said Munro, who began verbalizing this information as early as two-years old. Munro endured taunts and physical abuse from her parents while growing up as an only child in the 1970s. The only time Munro felt free as a child was when she played dress-up by herself and with her girl cousins.
Munro later learned from her mother that there was a cycle of abuse in her familyher mother was raped by her father, and she was raped by two of her uncles. Although Munro said she was able to forgive her mother, she never forgot what happened to her as a child. Reflecting on her mother's death Munro said, "The day my mother died was the day Teddy [her former name] died."
Angelique (her new name) was born on Halloween in 1995 shortly after Munro started doing guest spots at the Baton Club, according to Munro. Munro said she originally chose the name Norma Jean as a tribute to Marilyn Monroe; however, there was already a performer from Atlanta named Norma Jean. Since there was already a Norma Jean, Munro chose another name to create her own identity. When her drag mother, Monica Munro, referred to her as "angelic" and "unique," Munro changed her name to Angelique while her last name Munro was given to her by Monica. Munro says she still feels her name is connected to Marilyn Monroe.
While still a teenager, Munro saw an episode of The Phil Donahue Show on transgender individuals; because of that episode, she found the word that identified her. When people ask her how she self-identifies Munro said, "I am a [straight] woman who happened to be born transgender."
When asked how her employer (she worked in accounting at the time) reacted when she began her transition process Munro noted that her boss just said "OK" and her name plate on her office door was changed immediately to reflect her new identity. Her boss was replaced by a new person and the new boss fired Munro from her job with the official reasoning being the downturn in the economy, Munro remarked.
Of her life today, Munro noted that the misconception people have about her is that she has her life together. When O'Keeffe asked Munro what she would say if she could go back in time and speak to Teddy, her answer was, "I'm sorry."
A Q&A with the audience followed the chat. Munro told the audience that she may retire from performing sometime in the near future.
See www.facebook.com/angelique.munro for more information.